"Can I Borrow Your Pump?".... - Pedal Progression


5 July 2019

“Can I Borrow Your Pump?”….

The internet is a wonderful thing. It allows me to call my friends in different countries without charge. I can stream inspiring videos in HD. I can purchase my favourite items at a click and have them delivered the next day. I can see my friends holiday photos appear on social media in real time. However, I’m convinced it’s changing the way we interact with each other and perhaps not for the better? Let me explain…

Here’s a scenario that is all too common in bike shops. It’s a daily occurrence in ours and the title of this blog has perhaps given the game away. Or has it? A visitor (I say visitor and not customer – a customer contributes to business) stands at the door and shouts “Can I borrow your pump?” If you’re reading and thinking ‘what’s the problem?’ this blog is for you!

When I Google ‘the best restaurants in Bristol’, Google as an incredibly well engineered computer miracle, understands exactly what I want and will give me an answer in under a second. Google doesn’t feel upset because I forgot to add “Hi Google, could you please show me” at the start of my search. That’s because computers don’t have emotions or feelings. I however, love friendly and polite interaction and I (as I’m sure others do) really appreciate it when people start their asks with a “Hi, how are you today?”

Amazons Alexa doesn’t need manners either… Let’s be honest, no one asks Alexa, you just tell it. “Alexa play me George Michaels Careless Whisper” (said no-one ever).  Have you seen the viral video of the young girl asking Alexa to play her Baby Shark!? By the end she’s almost shouting. Many have said it’s cute. I’m not so sure. I see it as a sign of things to come. The next generation growing up with false entitlement. Chat bots get a rough ride too but I’m not sure they care either! Because they’re… well, bots!

In the shop I regularly have Google esq questions thrown my way: “Got an allen key?” “Where’s a map?” “How much is bike hire?” I personally find it really wearing. I figure it’s because I’m not a robot and I’m actually engineered for relationship, as are you. However, the relationship equivalent of “Can I borrow your pump?” without even a simple ‘Hello’ is perhaps verbally more similar to someone forcing themselves on me, than anything friendly! It feels kind of uncomfortable.

I’ve taken to being overly polite to visitors who do this and if I’m feeling particularly sassy, this is how it goes down:

Visitor: “Where do the trails start?”

Me: “Hey mate! How are you doing?! Lovely day for a ride isn’t it!?”

Visitor: “Yeah, I’ve not been here before – where are the trails?”

Me: “They’re in the woods mate and there’s a map in the car park!”

That’s terrible service isn’t it? It’s the response I’d imagine Google to give if he/she’d (not sure on Googles gender) had had a particularly rough day! If Google had a soul, I figure most of it’s days would be rough! Can you imagine!? Obviously, not all our visitors are like this. We have great relationships with many of our customers and visitors too. In fact most are polite, and very personable.

I love hearing stories of meaningful relationships that have grown out of customer interactions with business owners and their staff. The bike industry is one particular place this seems to happen a lot. Most of us will know someone who joined a race team or got a job in this way. We’ve actually hired in this way ourselves! I’m sure there are other industries where it happens too. Perhaps I’m just more aware having been in the industry for over 10 years now. Let’s not give up on this and if you think I have, pick me up on it. Regardless of how tiring it can be, I never want to miss out on meeting new and interesting people.

Let’s not use service industries like they somehow owe us. It’s easy to forget that people are people if you get me? We all want to be treated well and valued. Respect and good manners go a long way!

“The pump? Sure go ahead, it’s outside just around the corner.”


Peace, love, manners and happy trails,



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